“In charities, emotions are everything! Nobody wants to give to ‘a charity.’ They want to make a difference.”
That’s a key marketing principle from British multi-channel marketing maestro Stephen Pidgeon. He returned to it again and again as he spoke during The Extraordinary Donor Journey 2013, presented in Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto by Global Philanthropic.
Fundraisers can draw on a world of emotions in their appeals, Pidgeon explains. Just for starters, there’s laughter, connection, anger, concern, sadness and sympathy. We can use emotions, he counsels, to campaigns that connect to one individual at a time, not hundreds of thousands. If he has a mantra, it can be found in the words of neurologist Donald Caine:
The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action and reason leads to conclusions.
And of course, we fundraisers want action – the action of giving.
The good, bad and ugly
Decades of direct marketing through print and digital media have shown Pidgeon the good, the bad and the ugly of fundraising communications. He brought plenty of examples to ensure that conference attendees got the point. Consider these:
Sizzle, not steak
Behind the successful and unsuccessful appeals is the basic principle of commercial sales – sell the benefits, not the features. What you do, he contends, is of no interest to anyone except yourself. But what you achieve by doing it can motivate even the stoniest of hearts. What you achieve is your fundraising proposition – and when you can state it with emotion and urgency, Pidgeon passionately believes you’ll have a winning appeal, whether in the mail or online.